How to make PHC a favourable career choice for medical students: Strategies and reflections

Doctor 2019 youth

(Martin Brosy, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah, a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Primary healthcare is the foundation of all health systems as it is the first contact and ongoing link between people and their health providers. Yet 400 million people around the world do not have access to basic health services. After the new global commitment to primary healthcare (PHC) in Astana a few months back, PHC has never been more important.

A few months back, I went on a medical mission to Kordofan, a state 12 hrs from from the capital city of Sudan. As we visited village after village, I observed the status of PHC centres. Understaffed, under resourced, and bluntly said, empty. One centre was a room, slightly larger than a classroom, with only a desk and a couch  where even a size 16 cannula could not be found. It became quite apparent to me that aside from the low resources, the notable shortage of primary health care workers is greatly affecting the provision of quality basic health care services. I silently asked myself, who would work here ? How can we make Primary Healthcare an attractive career choice for medical students who constitute the bulk of the future health workforce ?

As a strong believer that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world, one of the fundamental solutions is reforming of undergraduate medical education on 3 main aspects – Firstly, decentralisation of medical education such that states within a country have schools that graduate doctors who will work in the same communities they came from. In addition, medical schools must ensure their selection policies are inclusive of students from rural/underserved areas by providing financial aid whenever needed. The second aspect is to increase the longitudinal exposure and training of students in PHC settings. It it has been documented that undergraduate training largely influences career choices of medical students however, in most schools, 90% of clinical training is in tertiary health institutions and in the 4 main disciplines of medicine. What if PHC or family medicine would be the 5th ? The final aspect is to promote social accountability amongst medical students by creating opportunities whether core or elective within the curriculum that allow for students to engage with and feel accountable to their communities.

Another approach would be to address postgraduate training. Most students feel there is no room for career growth within PHC especially in rural areas, hence it is essential to create a strong and compelling continuous professional development and training programme for physicians working in PHC settings.

Finally, addressing working conditions is integral. It is paramount to bridge the payment gap between specialists and PHC physicians by increasing the funding for PHC in general. This, coupled by appropriate working hours, well resourced centres and adjunct benefits like insurance and housing will help reduce the perceived imbalance between specialists and PHC physicians.

In conclusion, the shortage of primary health care workers is an complex issue, which will require a combination of strategies to solve. It is important to involve youth in the continuous assessment of the situation and the implementation of innovative ideas to address this challenge.

Health is for all, by all.

About the author

Ms. Alaa Abusufian E. Dafallah is a 6th year medical student from University of Khartoum, Sudan with 5 years of experience in the field of student advocacy and medical education development in Sudan and Africa. She is currently the Regional co-ordinator of Medical education for Africa at the International Federation for Medical Students Association (IFMSA). Alaa recently founded MHSL (Model Health system Leaders ) a novel initiative that aims to promote youth understanding & reforming of health systems. She aspires to pursue a career in Health systems and health workforce planning.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Chart of the day: These countries have the highest share of electric vehicles

Lagarde’s metamorphoses, not a laughing matter

For Youth Rights: steps forward for better protection.

UN General Assembly President defends ‘landmark’ migration compact

Russia and the West use the same tactics to dismember Ukraine

Parliament makes it easier to organise a European Citizens’ Initiative

Europe on the Move: Commission completes its agenda for safe, clean and connected mobility

4 myths about manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Despite progress towards peace, Afghanistan facing ‘daunting challenges’ ahead of presidential vote

Use space technology to build a better world for all, urges UN chief

VW emissions scandal: EU unable to protect its consumers against large multinationals

Court of Auditors: EU spending infested with errors well above the materiality threshold of 2%

UN urges ‘restraint’ in Bangladesh’s post-presidential election violence

Schengen: MEPs adopt their position on temporary checks at national borders

MWC 2016 LIVE: Xiaomi looks to revive growth with flagships

UN welcomes ‘milestone’ release of 833 Nigerian children from anti-Boko Haram force

European Commission adopts new list of third countries with weak anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes

Turkey needs to step up investment in renewables to curb emissions

Consumer product quality: MEPs take aim at dual standards

‘Much more’ can be done to raise awareness about the plight of persons with albinism: UN chief

Terrorist content online should be removed within one hour, says EP

Fake news: What it is, and how to spot it

Crime and drugs in West and Central Africa: Security Council highlights ‘new alarming trends’

Maros Sefcovic Canete European Commission Energy

Better late than never? Commission runs now to fight energy dependency on Russia with the sustainable energy security package

UN rights chief slams ‘unconscionable’ US border policy of separating migrant children from parents

Europe’s far-right launches attacks on neighboring nations

IMF’s Lagarde to Peoples of the world: You have to work more for the banks!

EU is now giving Google new monopolies to the detriment of European citizens and Internet companies

Iran: women hunger strikers entitled to medical care, UN rights experts urge

UN underscores the need to celebrate indigenous peoples, not confine them

Mind control using sound waves? We ask a scientist how it works

Human rights breaches in Azerbaijan and Sudan

Governments and non-state actors need to take urgent action to meet Paris Agreement goals

Seize the opportunities of digital technology to improve well-being but also address the risks

Google once more under EU crossfire from a possible record fine and new Right to be forgotten case

Commission presents EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements for signature and conclusion

We must work together to build a new world order. This is how we can do it

A Valentine’s Special: giving back, a dialogue of love

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century: an equity unachieved

A Sting Exclusive: “Consumer expectations for the 2015 UN summit on climate change”, Director General of BEUC Monique Goyens outlines from Brussels

MWC 2016 LIVE: Freemium MVNO model a success, claims FreedomPop head

Respect for fundamental rights and freedoms key for peaceful polls in DRC – UN mission chief

If we can build the International Space Station, ‘we can do anything’ – UN Champion for Space

MWC 2016 LIVE: 5G to embrace unlicensed bands and Wi-Fi

18th European Forum on Eco-innovation live from Barcelona: What’s next for eco-labelling?

Why growth is now a one way road for Eurozone

It’s Brexit again: Nigel Farage launches a personal campaign to lead the ‘No’ front

Health without borders: How we can Improve International Collaboration in Health Care

Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

Local innovation, international impact: SMEs and the ITU Telecom World Awards

EU Telecoms deal: Fees on calls across the EU capped and 5G network by 2020

IMF: How can Eurozone avoid stagnation

Indigenous peoples ‘lag behind on all social and economic indicators’: UN deputy human rights chief

A week to decide if the EU is to have a Banking Union

Libyan national conference postponed, nearly 500,000 children at ‘direct risk’ from fighting around Tripoli

What will Germany look like after the next election?

Can Greece’s democratic institutions keep it in Eurozone?

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Climate change and health – can medical students be the solution?

Women must have an equal share in politics, say MEPs and national MPs

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s